The actions involving the prohibition of Aygun Hasanova, an employee of the Azerbaijan State News Agency (AZERTAC), from participating in a seminar in Bonn, Germany, and preventing her access to the Schengen zone are deeply regrettable. This incident, which occurred on orders of France, represents an attempt to violate legal norms and limit freedom of speech and expression, says a statement from the Azerbaijan Press Council.

The statement also says: “We should keep in mind that journalists from many countries were invited to the event organized by the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In addition, the participation of the Azerbaijani journalist in the meeting was agreed upon in advance, and all necessary procedures were completed. A multiple-entry Schengen visa, seminar invitation, and other documents were in order. Thanks to the efforts of the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Germany and the Secretariat of the UNFCCC, the official bodies of Germany recognized that France’s request was completely unfounded. Consequently, Aygun Hasanova was granted access to the country.

France’s approach is political, biased, and completely incompatible not only with the law but also with fundamental ethical norms. This is France’s intolerant attitude towards media values and free speech. France should recognize that attempts to restrict journalistic activity are tantamount to disregarding democracy and human principles. Unfortunately, there is no one in the country’s government concerned about that.

The Azerbaijan Press Council calls on the world’s leading journalistic circles and organizations responsible for protecting human rights and freedoms to strongly condemn France’s desire to restrict the activities of AZERTAC employee Aygun Hasanova. The Council’s position is that the attempt to apply such a political approach against a journalist in the center of Europe is extremely likely to create a negative precedent. Therefore, all such attempts should be vigorously resisted to prevent their recurrence.

We would like to hope that as a result of the efforts and principled approaches of progressive circles of Europe and the world, measures of public condemnation will be implemented regarding France, and this country will not venture to resort to such illegal and biased methods again.”